The most important aspects of planting for beginners are location, water, and technique. You must also get to know your chosen plants. Pay close attention to the sunlight, water, soil, and growing zone recommendations.
Planting For Beginners
The USDA Growing Zone Map has always been my best friend when it comes to figuring out growing zones. Growing zones are excellent guides that teach us what plants can grow where we live.
Watering requirements will vary with different plants, but all plants require good watering during establishment. For this article, I will be recommending drought tolerant plants because they are easiest for beginners. But just because they are drought tolerant or even drought resistant does not mean they won’t need watering during the establishment period. The establishment period lasts for 2 to 3 months for most plants. This is when the roots start to grow and move into the new soil. Thorough waterings about twice per week is just what most plants need to grow healthy, deep roots. You want the water to penetrate the ground so deeply that the water is below the root ball of your new plant.
Proper Planting Technique
Now that you have picked out your location and you understand watering, it is time to plant your new plant.
- Soak the soil of your potted plant within a couple hours of planting. This helps reduce shock.
- Dig a hole that is at least twice the width of your plant, but about the same depth. It never hurts to score the soil at the bottom of the hole or even till it to loosen the soil. If you have good soil that is easy to dig then you can skip that step. But, if you have difficult soil, like clay, that step is all the more important.
- Place your plant in the middle of the hole. For large plants and trees be sure that they are even and straight from all sides before filling the hole.
- This is a good time to water if the soil is dry. Fill up the hole and let it soak in.
- Now fill the native soil back in. You can use up to 50% planting mix mixed with the native soil if you have poor soil. Just keep in mind that your plant will need to acclimate to your native soil to survive.
- Use your hands to press down the soil to remove air pockets. Avoid using your feet as this can overly compact the soil and make it harder for your plants to thrive.
- Water at the base of your plant. Allow the ground to become thoroughly saturated.
- For beginning planters especially, I recommend adding a mound of mulch around your plant. Mulch protects the roots, keeps the soil moist longer, and reduces weeds that can compete with your plant for water and nutrients. The layer of mulch should be about 1 to 2 inches deep and go out at least a few inches from the dripline or the rootzone. The dripline is the outermost portion of the canopy. The rootzone is where the roots are. For this purpose they are the outermost roots or where the roots come out farthest from the plant.
When to Plant
For warmer regions plant in fall or early to mid spring. You can even plant in winter if the ground doesn’t freeze in your area! For cooler climates plant in spring or early to mid fall. Give plants at least 6 weeks to begin to establish before the ground freezes completely. (This is not when freezing air temperatures begin, but rather when there are consistent freezing temperatures in the nighttime and daytime as well.)
Best Plants for Beginners
Flower Gardening for Beginners
Camellias - flowering shrubs with year-round interest
Daylilies - pops of color and nice texture
Drift Roses - groundcover roses for containers or the ground
Encore Azaleas - 3 seasons of gorgeous blooms on an evergreen bush
Knock Out Roses - hardy roses with flowers in spring, summer, and fall
Liriope - perfect border plant with lavender purple to blue flowers
Loropetalums - unique purple evergreen foliage on a pink flowering bush
Low Maintenance Plants
Hollies - evergreen classic
Hostas - shade loving perennials
Ligustrum - fast growing screening shrub
Ornamental Grasses - add texture and beauty
Succulents - drought resistant groundcover or container plants
Citronella Plant - oils from this plant keep mosquitos away
Easy to Grow Trees
American Sycamore Tree - large classic shade tree
Crape Myrtles - stunning flowering trees with a long bloom season
Oak Trees - great shade and street trees
Redbud Trees - vibrant spring bloomers
Thuja Green Giant - best evergreen privacy tree
Willow Trees - add shade and beauty
Maple Trees - beautiful fall color
Now you know how to plant, when to plant, and what to plant. Planting for beginners is a lot to digest, but you've got this! Don’t feel overwhelmed! You can start small with just one plant or tree. Gardening is so rewarding. It makes your home beautiful and your body healthy. Now get to it! Happy planting, beginners!
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